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How the rise of the data-driven CMO is paving the way for interim marketing teams

Today’s CMO must be data-driven. We all know by now that as marketing become an increasingly digital endeavor, the creative elements that drive the field must be guided by facts, metrics, and statistics if they are to lead to real business success. In part, this shift in the marketing paradigm is fed by the sheer size of the digital world we inhabit today. By 2020, our digital universe is projected to reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes of information. More importantly, the transition has been fed by access to an increasing number of digital marketing channels and avenues for reaching customers, and expansion around the technology we use to measure success — how, where, when, and why those customers read and engage with our marketing.

Of course, marketers have played a notable role in creating, measuring, and interpreting much of that data. Putting all that data to use it is only part of a natural progression towards marketers as business drivers and decision makers, contributing to the ultimate success of the companies they represent. And as big data grows exponentially year after year, marketers’ capacity to spur on that business success will depend largely on their ability to analyze and contextualize complex, dynamic datasets.

Marketing metrics have long guided the creative side of a marketing team’s responsibilities, allowing us to analyze the efficacy of marketing efforts or demonstrate return on investment on specific marketing channels and campaigns. In today’s world and in the future, a successful data-driven CMO will also tap into broader business metrics. 68 percent of CMOs now own profit-and-loss items in their companies, which means their reporting extends far beyond the reach and effectiveness of specific, finite marketing campaigns.

But this evolution towards data-driven marketing hasn’t arrived in a vacuum. Another evolution that arises in parallel is the need for an expandable marketing team. As marketers tackle specific business problems head on, an adjunct or interim marketing team is more essential than ever.

Companies in virtually every industry are already familiar with outsourcing the more creative side of their marketing, from design and copywriting to campaign strategy. According to a 2016 Statista survey, 39.3 percent of responding small- to medium-sized businesses that used email as a marketing channel said they outsourced the activity.

Meanwhile, freelancer marketplaces like Upwork have proven that the gig economy is here to stay — outsourced, highly specified talent that’s easy to direct, extremely low-cost, and completely temporary. Upwork alone supports job searches for more than 12 million freelancers, with more than 12,000 new members joining the platform every day.

There are more platforms, agencies and independent growth hackers than companies can make sense of, but landing reliable talent and real business solutions is a crap shoot. As the gig economy expands, growth experts proliferate, and our big data footprint multiplies exponentially, there’s not a lot of discussion about how to do harness these technologies and talents effectively. So what is the next evolution of data-driven marketing and the freelancer-focused gig economy? The data-driven interim CMO.

The trend towards adjunct, interim teams has been proven and accepted throughout the marketing world. Incorporating that ever-developing business need with data-driven decision making and battle-tested marketing expertise certainly narrows down the playing field. What arises out of this Venn diagram of today’s marketing landscape is a marketing expert with the tools, resources, and experience to combine business metrics for effective profit-and-loss ownership with real-world creative marketing chops, all within a set timeframe or dedicated to a specific business growth phase.

In my mind, an interim CMO should provide a balance between the more traditional right-brain creative take on marketing and the analytical left-brain approach to data and metrics that drives real business success. This is why I created the InterimCMO concept: to complement the core team of a startup or corporation and suit immediate business goals, without requiring the cash flow and resource commitment required to make a full-time hire. The decision itself is data-driven, results-focused, and plain smart business.

Sounds good. Whats next?


How the rise of the data-driven CMO is paving the way for interim marketing teams was originally published in InterimCMO on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.